We spoke with three pro photographers to find out what they’ve learned about creating, marketing, and selling their Lightroom presets. Plus, we have some FREE Lightroom Presets. Check them out below.
If you’ve spent too many hours behind a desk editing photos, you already know presets are incredible tools for speeding up your workflow.
“Presets” — sometimes called photo filters or plugins — are Adobe Lightroom’s way of saving a set of editing adjustments so you can quickly and easily apply them to multiple images. These premade edits can transform your straight-out-of-camera digital images into beautiful finished products in seconds. Many photographers have caught onto the idea of selling their presets.
“A few years ago, I was working as a photographer for mostly swimsuit companies,” explains Hawaii-based photographer Heather Goodman, whose first product was an editing ebook. “My ebook was so successful that I thought I’d help people out by packaging my edits in preset form. I had seen some people do this and sell on Etsy, but otherwise selling presets wasn’t a huge thing back then. Almost everyone I knew just bought and used VSCO presets. I wanted to help make editing easy for my followers, so I built and released my first Lightroom preset pack and it was a major success!”
Here are some additional photography editing resources to read:
- Editing Skin Tones: The Techniques You Need to Master
- Developing a Unique Editing Style in your Photography
From wedding photographer India Earl’s warm and soft Honey preset to the limited-edition Color Bundle, a collection of more than 500 presets for desktop and mobile editing from a collective of thirty influencers, the options in pre-made presets are seemingly endless.
But be warned: not all presets are created equal. Many take more tweaking than they are worth in order to mesh with your style of shooting. That said, a high-quality preset can speed up your workflow and create consistency in the look of your photos. What’s more, they help you identify what adjustments you need to make in Lightroom to achieve the look you want.
Did you know we have some FREE Lightroom Presets? Check these out:
- Free Lightroom Presets for Epic Outdoor Adventure Photography
- 5 Free Lightroom Presets for Wedding Photography
- Free Lightroom Presets for Better Looking Portraiture
- Get Started in Adobe Lightroom CC with These 15 Free Presets
We tracked down the creators of three of our favorite preset packs to learn their tips for creating, marketing, and selling Lightroom presets.
Tip #1: Decide on the look and feel of your Lightroom Presets
Your customer will be interested in the specifics of what your presets offer. So, make sure you are familiar with the end effect your preset will have on a photo and communicate what that effect is.
For example, Michigan-based photographer Meg Loeks offers multiple preset packs that each offer specific results: “[My] Solstice Presets are centered around four distinctive seasons and work well with low light and colorful images, maintaining warm skin tones while cooling greens,” she explains. “The Dawn Collection works with all types of light. It’s high in contrast and contains earthy colors, with sixteen color presets and four stackable overlays.”
If you don’t feel confident in creating a full set of complementary presets that each offer different effects, consider building just one high-quality, versatile preset with small variations. Just be sure to communicate that clearly to the buyer.
Goodman adds: “I really only use one base as my main preset, so I just sell whatever my current style is. If there’s more than one preset in a pack, it’s because they’re all related to the same base preset, but I’ve modified them to fit different situations, such as sunset light or black and white.”
Check out these articles for more tips on finding your photographic style:
- 10 Offset Contributors on How They Define Their Look and Aesthetic
- Why It’s Important to Create a Visual Aesthetic for your Photography
Tip #2: Test your Lightroom Presets
A high-quality preset needs to complement a wide range of photos to be marketable. That’s why Germany-based photographer Lukas Piatek — who also runs the digital preset marketplace Meridian — tests his presets on as many images as possible before putting them up for sale.
“The most challenging part is definitely to create a specific look that works in most light situations,” he explains. “I think I achieved that as I shot all over the world and had plenty of different RAW files to play with. If presets look awesome on your images, that doesn’t mean they’ll look like that on other images, especially with different camera systems in place. Test, test, test!”
Tip #3: Market Your Presets to a Specific Customer
There’s no one-size-fits-all preset that’s going to work for every style preference. So, it’s crucial to identify who your ideal user is to avoid unhappy customers. A professional wedding photographer is going to need presets that work well on both natural and artificial light while offering beautiful, natural skin tones. But, a non-professional looking for a preset to give their Instagram some consistency will likely be satisfied with a bolder, more stylized preset.
If you’re unsure of who your customer is, it’s most likely someone who shoots the way you do. So, start there. “My intended customer is someone who loves low light, high contrast, and moody images,” says Meg. “Since my work often contains lots of color, these presets work best with images that contain just that.”
Tip #4 Create Supplemental Products
“I’ve learned that it’s impossible to please everyone,” says Meg. “Some consumers are really going to love your presets, and for some, they just don’t work. That’s why I think it’s important to include tutorials with a preset pack demonstrating how to use them and what typically works best.”
To give your customers the best results, create two simple PDF documents (Shutterstock Editor can help with that) that offer simple instructions for installing and using your presets. You can also include a few tips and tricks for how to get the most out of your product.
Including free bonus or supplemental products in your preset bundle will give you some edge in a highly competitive marketplace. “You can definitely increase the value of your preset by adding additional tools and resources, such as a video or PDF to help people edit,” adds Heather.
Try recording your screen while you edit a variety of photos using your presets. Then offer the tutorial to customers so they can familiarize themselves with the most effective ways to tweak your product. Or, create a separate preset pack of brushes — such as a “burn” or “fog” brush — that users can hand paint onto their photos.
Tip #5: Pick a price that’s right for your business
Pricing your presets depends on a variety of factors, like demand, quality, and size of the preset pack. If you’re selling presets through a third-party marketplace such as Meridian Presets, the price could be set by the owners.
India Earl’s Honey pack sells for $200 and includes a variety of tools, PDFs and streamable editing videos. Wedding photographer Dawn Charles marks her preset packs at $99 each. Meg’s Solstice pack and tools retail for $59, while Heather’s desktop presets sell for $50.
Mobile presets are often less expensive. They’re also usually sold and marketed separately from the desktop versions. However, there’s no set market price for presets. “I picked a price point that I myself would be willing to pay for a set,” suggests Lukas.
“When I first released presets, they cost about $10 per preset, but now I’d say presets are worth about $5-10,” says Heather. “There are presets out there that only cost $1, so when someone sees that yours cost more they don’t understand why it would be worth it! But buying a preset from an experienced photographer is going to be way different than purchasing a random preset from someone who doesn’t understand lighting, skin tones, and all the tools in Lightroom. So I would say getting people to understand this is the biggest marketing challenge.”
With that in mind, keep it simple when selling your presets. Sign up with a third-party platform or use drag-and-drop ecommerce options such as Shopify. You may even want to consider hiring someone to help you with customer service, says Heather. “This is the most difficult and frustrating aspect of selling presets. You can put as much information as possible on your product page but you will still get people who don’t read it and need help. I won’t resend someone’s presets they bought three years ago and lost — that’s just ridiculous. Make all of that clear from the beginning.”
Image by Mikel Taboada / VISTA by Westend61.
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